Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ideological Look at Women Posing as Children

The main piece I am focusing on is a 1999 magazine print ad featuring the widely famous pop-star Britney Spears at the ripe age of seventeen years old. Spears is positioned lying on a purple couch, talking on a telephone with a plate of cookies and a glass of milk next to her. She is wearing a pink button down shirt that is unbuttoned enough so we can see her midriff, and hip hugging capri pants.
The surface meaning of the piece appears to be that milk is a necessity, and should be a part of your daily diet. If we look closer at the ad, there is text stating “Baby, one more time isn’t enough. 9 out of 10 girls don’t get enough calcium. It takes about 4 glasses of milk every day. So when I finish this glass, fill it up, baby. Three more times.” The text is a play-on-words, referring to the singer’s popular, smash-hit single “Baby One More Time.” From looking at this piece, the ad’s creator wants to instill the idea in us that if we drink milk, we too will be fit, happy and beautiful just like this young image of Britney Spears. The creator of this piece assumes that we know the singer, and we know that milk is good for you because it tells us how much of it we must drink in order to maintain a healthy diet. The posture of the singer is somewhat unnatural, which brings up the issue that the female in this ad is posing in a child-like position, but we are suppose to accept it as cute, sexy and fun. However, if you were to reverse roles and place a man in this position; or an elderly woman; the message and purpose of this ad would change drastically. Or what if it was ten year old child instead, placed on the couch the same way wearing the same skin tight capris and baring her midriff?  That would be considered child porn, and would NOT sit well with consumers as well as the ad industry.
As I stated earlier, the ad portrays Spears in an unnatural, dramatic pose that we do not see every day—or do we? In conducting my research I found that there are thousands of print ads out there where the woman in the ad is posing in a child-like position or manner. Some are made to appear shy, timid, playful or reserved just like young children. This contradicts the fact that these women are suppose to appear sexy—because how can a child be sexy? If you wanted to take it there, one might consider these ads somewhat pedophiliac. Women are directed to pose in these positions and we as consumers have come to accept these poses without even questioning their existence because we see them so much in today’s media.
I think that this ad is trying to speak to young girls, and uses Britney Spears as the model because they know she is worldly recognized and idolized by so many children, teens and even adults. They wanted to make her look young and innocent and figured by placing her in this pose, they would do just that. However, by having the bottom of her shirt unbuttoned at such a young age, the ad is also very suggestive in a quiet, underlying tone. I appreciate the positive message, being that the ad urges you to drink milk in order to be healthy—but I feel that if they are trying to speak to young girls, there is no need to be so suggestive. Like I stated earlier, the purpose of this ad should be to speak to young kids but instead, with the baring midriff and skin-tight clothing, the ad also yells to boys and older men, thus attracting a different kind of attention. However, because it is a young teen with a smile on her face, we are forced to except it as an image depicting youth and playfulness and not the fact that she is taking the position of a three-eight year old child talking to a friend on the telephone. Though it is a forced and unnatural position, we as a society have come to accept it due to the world we live in with women being depicted as mere objects—especially in advertisements. This ad may have gotten their intended message across to some, but to others like me it just proves itself as a contradiction.

"Got Milk" ad feauturing singer Taylor Swift

"Got Milk" ad featuring model Gisele Bundchen
"Got Milk" ad featuring ER actress Sherry Stringfield

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